Why Christian Liberal Arts?
A classical education cultivates wisdom and virtue by nourishing the soul on truth, beauty, and goodness. Students at The Bear Creek School pursue wisdom and virtue at every grade level and in each of the many disciplines offered to our students.
British author and educator Dorothy Sayers wrote a succinct essay promoting the value of classical education. She ends with this statement: "The sole true end of education is simply this, to teach men how to learn for themselves, and whatever instruction fails to do this is effort spent in vain." Our desire at The Bear Creek School is to assist students in every possible way to learn for themselves to cultivate wisdom and virtue.
Therefore the Bear Creek method of classical education is centered around the Trivium, which contains three areas of study based on the stages in a child's mental development. The first stage, or the Grammar period, takes advantage of a young student's great natural ability to absorb large amounts of material, whether math facts, science, or a second language. Students in kindergarten through grade 6 are taught the foundational academic content for all future studies; poetry, music, and Shakespeare enrich the learning experience.
Students at ages eleven-thirteen are growing new neurons in the part of the brain that controls "executive function," i.e. reasoning ability. The second stage of the Trivium, known as the Dialectic period, takes advantage of this brain development. The Dialectic can also be thought of as the logic or reasoning phase, and this is the focus of Middle School (grades 7-8) at Bear Creek. Here students are ready to take the facts of learning and make logical connections between them, to assess the importance of the academic content, to question and analyze, and seek truth.
The third stage, or pillar, of the Trivium is the Rhetoric stage. Rhetoric is the art of communicating with "language that moves men to action!" In grades 9-12, students engage in still higher level thinking, drawing conclusions from analysis so that they might take a stand. They are challenged to effectively articulate their opinions in writing and public speaking, and to embody the ideas they have learned in courses such as Worldview Capstone and Rhetoric.
In addition, every subject has its own grammar, logic, and rhetoric—thus students at all levels begin with the grammar of the subject, and then move to the dialectic, and then rhetoric within that discipline as they are able.
Other Bear Creek classical traditions include:
- In Literature: focusing on the great books—books read by the intellectual giants of our culture, books that are great teachers
- In History: teaching the significance of history as part of the flow of the Western civilization continuum
- In Language: teaching Latin in Lower School, Early Middle School, and Middle School, and as an option in Upper School
- In the Classics: educating Upper School students in logic, philosophy, ethics, rhetoric, and apologetics